Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will replace National's targets for social outcomes with Labour's own rather than abandon targets altogether.
Ardern announced on Monday that Labour would be scrapping the "Better Public Service" targets system National used which had ranged from reducing rheumatic fever and obesity to improved NCEA results.
That drew criticism from National leader Bill English who said it would result in "dumb, lazy" government and reduce accountability.
Ardern said she did see merit in setting targets but Labour's priorities were different from National's.
"There's a little bit of work we need to do first but what I wanted to flag early on was, whilst I agree with mechanisms like that, we are going to have different priorities than the last government. Most people would expect that."
She said she expected to set specific targets – and had done so already for child poverty.
"They are broad in the sense we are actually targeting a systemic, core issue but with some specificity around the outcomes we hope to achieve. We are looking at some pretty chunky issues with the targets we are setting for ourself."
Ardern said she did not believe the responsibility for meeting such targets should lie with one department because many crossed different portfolios.
English said the targets had "a profound impact" on how government departments worked. The decision to abolish the system National had put in place was "a step backwards to lazy, dumb government."
"Those agencies had a clear sense of purpose, they knew what their job was, they were there to change lives and they, their ministers and the government were there to use taxpayers' money to reduce misery not just service it."
Better Public Services targets were introduced in 2012 and revised last year.
Some of the targets included cutting the youth crime rate by 25 per cent, reducing working-age beneficiaries by 25 per cent, and an increase to 85 per cent the percentage of students who leave school with NCEA level 2 or equivalent.
About two thirds of the targets were met while others fell short.